NSW OPENS ARMS TO AFGHAN ARRIVALS

NSW has opened its arms to those fleeing Afghanistan for Australia, with almost 900 refugees recently arriving in the State to escape the humanitarian crisis.

Minister for Multiculturalism Natalie Ward said the NSW Government was committed to ongoing support for the Afghan Australian community, which faced a difficult and traumatic time.

“NSW has provided a safe refuge for almost 900 evacuees from Afghanistan in the past seven weeks alone, with almost half of those aged under 18,” Mrs Ward said.

“They have experienced extreme trauma and need specialised and tailored support as they begin their new lives here in Australia.”

Afghan arrivals are eligible for support under a recently-announced $6.25 million NSW Government funding package to provide urgent help for temporary visa holders and asylum seekers.

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In addition, the NSW Government has provided $8.5 million over three years to continue important support programs for refugee, new and emerging communities in the 2021-2022 NSW Budget.

This funding includes support to connect with education and health services, and community and settlement services that promote employment opportunities and social connection.

Mrs Ward also welcomed the Federal Government’s recent $27.1 million commitment over two years for a tailored Afghan settlement support package.

That funding will include support for Afghan-Australian community organisations, help with transitioning to permanent visas and mental health assistance.

“I have also met with the Federal Minister for Multicultural Affairs to advocate strongly for a higher intake of Afghans to join us here in Australia,” Mrs Ward said.

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NSW Coordinator General for Settlement Professor Peter Shergold AC welcomed the move.

“The NSW Government has been constantly raising issues with the Commonwealth since the start of the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. Many of these issues have been addressed as part of the funding package,” Professor Shergold said.